Architectural Photography Tips

Architectural Photography is all about patience and problem solving.  The objective is to capture the design of the structure in a visually compelling way.  Buildings and structures are inert in nature but they can be visually dynamic.   The challenge for photographers is to combine technique and perspective to bring your images to life.

Listed below are some tips for architectural photography that I use in my client projects. These are not hard and fast rules but they are a good starting point for this type of photography.

Use a Tripod Interior archtectural photography  of Boston Public library ©2014 Daniel J. Splaine - All Rights Reserved

Architectural subjects are primarily static in nature which lends itself to tripod shooting. Using a tripod will stabilize your camera for extended exposures.  They also are useful for slowing down your process allowing for critical evaluation of your composition and camera settings. This subject requires deliberate and precise technique that only can be achieved from a stable platform.

Shoot at Small Apertures

To show the details of the building design fully you need depth of field.  Typically I use my lens minimum lens opening – aperture F22 – F32, to ensure I have the entire scene in focus.  Manage your focus and DOF carefully to create sharp images.

 Focal length

Wide angle lenses are the most commonly used for architectural photography. With a full frame sensor lenses 35 mm or wider will do just fine. Ultra wides, 12 mm to 17mm are particularly useful for interiors and tight shooting situations. Wide Angle lenses inherently have extended DOF that are useful for quality architectural shots. Lens selection is based on the scale of your subject and the distances you have to work with.  In situations with an extended work area you can use the compression effect of telephoto lenses

Watch your lightBuilding and sky- exterior archtectural photography  ©2014 Daniel J. Splaine- All Rights Reserved

Architectural subjects don’t move. Natural light moves around them.  Careful observation of the building orientation to the sun will help you decide when the best time to shoot the building.  Light and the arrangement of shadow will give buildings depth and dimensionality.  Along with time of day, weather is also a factor to consider. Clouds soften light, reduce contrast and rain can add moodiness and reflections.


Clean straightforward composition featuring the design elements of the structure are the strongest images.  Use design elements like leading lines, repeating patterns, and structural forms.  Pay attention to the details like keeping your horizons level and vertical lines straight. By definition your photography is all about the architectural design so compose with care.

 Shoot Monochrome

Buildings and structures lend themselves to shooting monochrome images. Their lines and contrast feature well in black and white photography.  Graphically strong images of buildings get a little more punch in B+W.


Go to your corner

One of the best ways to show depth and scale, especially in interior spaces, is to shoot from a corner.  When working in tight quarters the corner may be your only choice.  The perspective extends the layers of depth of the space and shows the viewer all the details of the room.

Want to learn more about Architectural Photography?  Join me on June 15 for my workshop in Boston.  For complete details and registration  CLICK HERE

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